Chelsea's Conte eyes squad rotation to tackle tough fixtures ahead

Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte to take over Arsenal

Antonio Conte

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte will rotate his squad, starting from Friday’s English FA Cup clash with Hull City.

The London side are faced with a tough run of fixtures ahead, but the coach said a strong Cup run was high on his list of priorities for the rest of the season.

After the fifth round meeting with Championship side Hull, Chelsea host FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 next week.

Thereafter, back-to-back English Premier League games against Manchester United and Manchester City follow.

“For sure, we have in front of us two weeks that will be tough.

“For this reason, I think it is right to have a plan to take on the two tough weeks in the right way,” Conte told a news conference on Thursday.

“At the same time, as you know very well, we want to try to go through to the next round in the FA Cup.”

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Chelsea are fourth in the league and 19 points adrift of leaders Manchester City with 11 games left.

However, Conte said a good run was vital to maintain their advantage over Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal who are directly below them in the league.

“When you start a season, every competition is a priority… We want to try to fight for every competition. There are three priorities for us in the rest of the season,” he added.

Midfielders Tiemoue Bakayoko and Ross Barkley as well as defender David Luiz will miss the match against Hull with injuries.

Also, striker Olivier Giroud (calf) and defender Marcos Alonso (ankle) face a late test to be fit.

Hull come into the contest on the back of a 2-1 fourth round win over Arsenal’s conquerors Nottingham Forest.

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